Shattered Financial Dreams: Six reasons why we struggle to overcome financial loss

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I recently had an opportunity to write a book on Financial Intelligence which is scheduled to come out in 2017/ 2018. I am not a Financial adviser nor Financial planner, however over the past years I have learnt a lot when it comes to finances, and had a chance to engage with different financial advisers and Financial planners.

Financial planners/ advisers can help you develop a great financial portfolio, help you choose which mutual fund, bonds and equity market to invest in. I have also realized that they cannot really help you with the emotions and grief that come when a sudden and unexpected loss of assets happens due to recession or any other type of loss.

When I lost my job years back in 2009, I started a very tough financial journey.  I was forced to consider selling my house, before it was repossessed by the bank. The business I had started was not really doing well and I could not get any other job. I was also defrauded by a very close person, we went on a particular business deal, we both put money and formed a Joint Venture and got the job done, when funds were paid, she immediately started giving me excuses, it went on for months, disputes came in and nothing really helped. It took me months to realize that I was not going to get any cent from her. I lost my car in the process because we had put it as collateral for the funds used for the business contract we had. I had to obviously start everything all over again.

How do you then overcome such a loss? I learned something in all this that there is a particular kind of grief that comes along with this type of incidents: sudden and unexpected loss of assets and the emotions that follow.

Yes, It is true that people can actually grieve over lost money, houses, and cars. Any kind of loss can trigger a grief reaction. Think back to when you lost something important to you. Maybe it was a relationship, a house, a car, or your job. You probably experienced some of these emotions.

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Guilt/self-reproach
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Shock
  • Yearning
  • Disbelief
  • Confusion
  • Preoccupation or rumination

Or these behaviours:

  • Sleep and/or appetite disturbances
  • Absentmindedness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Crying
  • Restlessness

This is just a partial list of the feelings, thoughts, and behaviours that are a part of the grieving process. If you remember living with some of these when you had a loss, you were likely experiencing grief.

We’re accustomed to thinking of grief as something that occurs only after a loved one dies. The problem with this is that we tend not to acknowledge our feelings as grief when we lose something other than a loved one.

So, can we really grieve over losses brought on us by financial difficulty?

Financial loss is not only about money. It probably wouldn’t be so devastating if it were. Let me share with you six reasons why we often struggle with overcoming financial loss, I have taken some of the points from an article by Bobbie Emel on bouncing back from financial grief.

Six reasons why it is difficult to overcome financial loss

  • Embarrassment: It’s one thing to tell someone that a family member died, but a completely different thing to share that you lost your money in a Ponzi scheme, Forex while trading, job loss, or any other issue related to recession. We don’t usually chat with our neighbours and peripheral friends about issues related to money; it’s just not one of our cultural norms.
  • Loss of identity: You used to be a Banker or Engineer who owned a house and had enough in the bank to put your kids through university and now you are an unemployed Dad / Mom who lost his/her house due to Foreclosure and had to move the family in with the in-laws. Maybe your situation isn’t that drastic, but you get the idea. You identify with your work and your social status, among other things, and so you might be unsure of who you are right now.
  • Feelings of betrayal: Dealing with a loss is difficult enough without the added emotional fallout from feeling betrayed by an Employer you have served faithfully for years or a business partner you’ve trusted for years. Now you are not only dealing with grief, but anger and resentment as well. In addition, the anger and resentment may be at a spouse, friend, or relative who gave you bad financial advice.
  • Denying the magnitude of the loss: It is very easy to think, “I shouldn’t be feeling this bad. It’s not like someone has died.” You devalue your own feelings because it’s “not as bad” as something else.
  • The thought that financial crisis = personal failure: “If I was a better money manager, this wouldn’t have happened. I’m such a loser.” “Why did I listen to that broker? I knew better. This is all my fault.” “I must be a real loser to have thought I could refinance my house with a mortgage bond in the first place.” This mythological thinking is very easy to fall into, but certainly not helpful (or true.)
  • Lack of social ritual for this kind of grief: We have many rituals for the death of a person: funerals, memorials services and other family gatherings etc. These customs help us with closure and adjusting to the world without our loved one. But there are no rituals around the loss of finances and the dreams that went with them. We are left feeling unfinished and lost….to be continued.

If you have experienced any kind of loss, you are likely to experience a sense of grief. You might be going through a series of emotions right now. I know a friend of a colleague who experienced loss and could not take it anymore and ended up committing suicide, leaving his wife with 3 children.

Feel free to call us, send us an email or anything, We will make time for you,we have personally experienced a whole lot of those emotions and had to overcome them, that is why we have dedicated our lives to providing support to anyone who might be going through the same experience.

Contact us on 074 1738108 / drop us an email on ThaboM@lcbnafrica.co.za / NthabisengM@lcbnafrica.co.za  visit our company website on www.theneweconomy.co.za for more Entrepreneurial resources.

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